Members who have been forgetting – or ignoring
– their dues obligations to Local 802 need to know
that we are serious about collecting
If you’ve been ignoring your work dues bills from Local 802 – or if you’re supposed to be a member but you never joined – we have a message for you: the union can no longer allow membership obligations to go unfulfilled. Over the past few years, some members have racked up considerable work dues owed to the union. At the same time, some musicians who are required to join the union have not done so, or have allowed their memberships to lapse.
Incredibly, after a recent audit of our dues, we discovered that if these members paid up the dues that they owe, the union could find itself out of its current deficit. Because of this, we must take action. This action could have real consequences for those who owe us dues or those who refuse to fulfill their membership obligations.
Every time we negotiate a contract, we include language that is known as a “union security clause.” This clause provides that all musicians working under that agreement must join the union no more than 30 days after their first employment under that agreement.
So if a non-member is hired by a Broadway show, he or she has 30 days to join Local 802. If you don’t join the union, the producer must remove you from their employ. Virtually all of our contracts have a union security clause. This clause is essential to us because it strengthens the union and gives all musicians the resources needed to maintain protections achieved through negotiation. Many employers don’t like it for the same reasons.
Our audit showed that there are some bargaining units where some musicians are not current Local 802 members. Up until now, we have not formally required these musicians to join nor have we instructed their employers to dismiss them in accordance with the contract. However, because our union has an obligation to treat all musicians fairly and equally, we will have to begin enforcing these payments in order to make Local 802 whole and to protect the interests of the majority of the union’s members who do pay their dues.
This covers annual membership dues. The other category of dues is work dues, which are a percentage of scale earnings that you pay to Local 802 on each gig. The union needs these dues to operate. These dues are not deducted directly from musicians’ paychecks unless there is a work dues withholding authorization as part of an agreement. This is another component of collective bargaining that we always try to include in our agreements. When work dues are automatically deducted from paychecks, it makes life a lot easier for musicians and for the union and we don’t have to send you a series of letters to remind you to pay the amount owed.
Work dues letters may get lost in the mail. Sometimes members go on vacation and forget about them. There are other possible reasons why members may fail to respond to our work dues bills. However, some members may be consciously ignoring these bills. These musicians are benefiting from the services of our union on the backs of other musicians who are properly paying their dues.
Because we all benefit from a financially healthy union and because 802 is not administratively equipped to enforce dues payments, the Executive Board is considering turning delinquent dues bills over to a collection agency. No one wants that to happen. Collection agencies are irritating and they could damage your credit. However, we may have no choice. If you owe the union, contact us and let us know how we can help you resolve your debt. Delinquent members will soon be receiving dues bills from 802’s dues department.
In the meantime, if you need to find out how much past work dues you owe, call the Membership Department at (212) 245-4802. You can pay what you owe over the phone with a credit card.
OFF BROADWAY CAST ALBUM
The producers of the Off Broadway show “Burnt Part Boys” recently requested permission to record a cast album under the terms of the Local 802 Limited Pressing Agreement. The Executive Board unanimously approved the request. This is worth mentioning because it is the first time we’ve used our new procedure.
In the past, requests to record cast albums under the Limited Pressing Agreement were handled directly by the Recording Department. Under our new policy, all such requests have to go through the full Executive Board. This provides more oversight for these important decisions.
Musicians earn less under the Limited Pressing Agreement than under the full Sound Recording Labor Agreement, but sometimes it’s the only way a producer of an Off Broadway show with limited financial resources can consider doing a cast album. In each case, the Executive Board uses the criteria that were recommended by an ad hoc rank and file committee and adopted by the Executive Board in 2008 to determine if a show qualifies for the Off Broadway limited pressing schedule. This ensures that a production receiving a financial break for a cast album is truly worthy of the concession, unlike in the past when such unilateral decisions were not made by our elected officers.
The Executive Board is in the middle of dealing with ongoing requests by the producers of the upcoming Broadway show “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.” At some point in the show, the characters lip synch to a recording. The producers have asked to use recorded tracks in rehearsal. The question we are considering is whether this ancillary music is only incidental music that should be allowed or should the music be played by the live orchestra instead.
So far the board has addressed this situation by allowing the vocal tracks to be used with the live musicians playing along. The principal issue is whether or not the recording being used is a “sound effect” not able to be replicated by live musicians or just a recording used in place of live musicians.
ILLINOIS STATE CONFERENCE
I have recently returned from the Illinois State Conference of AFM Locals. It was an informative and instructive visit with our brothers and sisters in Illinois. The state conference was preceded by a regional resources conference attended by locals from the Illinois Conference and hosted by President Vicky Smolik and the officers and staff of the Musicians Association of St. Louis (AFM Local 2-197). AFM representatives, IEB members and AFM President Ray Hair were also present. The topics included discussions on how the larger locals can assist smaller locals, the formation of local booking agencies (and/or referral services) and marketing.
AFM Executive Committee member Tina Morrison, who is also president of AFM Local 105 (Spokane), inspired discussion by reporting on different angles and strategies for marketing of musicians with which she has had success in that local. The combination of advertising locally the musicians of Local 105 and direct communication with those musicians has proven to be a recipe for success as part of her marketing strategy.
President Ray Hair capped off the conference with a general report on the status of the new administration and the adjustments in staff that were needed in order to help our union run in a more efficient and financially sound manner.